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UTEP softball head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk announced the addition of pitching coach Erika Bennett on Monday. Bennett – a member of the Mexican National Team – joins the Miners’ coaching staff after two years at FGCU, where the former Marshall pitcher directed the pitching staff.
Bennett will replace Becca Bliss, who was on the staff the last two years and was presented with a job opportunity in her native state of California. Bennett will work with sophomore pitchers Devyn Cretz and Allie Johnson, and a pair of transfer junior hurlers Kira McKechnie (Fresno State) and Julia Wright (Ranger College).
During Bennett’s two seasons at FGCU, the pitching staff posted a 2.82 ERA with only 268 walks and 515 strikeouts in 794 innings. Prior to coaching at in Southwest Florida, Bennett spent one year at Dodge City Community College where the Conquistadors compiled 142 strikeouts. Originally from Hereford, Ariz., Bennett previously spent time as a graduate assistant at Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio, while earning her MBA.
While at FGCU, Bennett mentored Riley Randolph, who the Atlantic Sun’s Freshman of the Year and Pitcher of the Year in 2016. Randolph went 16-5 with a 1.39 ERA. Randolph tallied 123 strikeouts and only 21 walks in 161.2 innings. In 2017, Randolph (18-11) posted a 2.06 ERA with 160 Ks and 44 walks in 194.0 frames. Bennett helped lower FGCU’s team ERA from 3.04 in 2015 to 2.81 in 2016.
Prior to her coaching career, Bennett led Miami Dade College to the NJCAA Division I National Title in 2010 while earning tournament MVP honors. In two years at MDC, Bennett compiled a 47-8 record, receiving All-America accolades, culminating with a season in which she earned six conference, regional and national awards.
Bennett then transferred to Marshall for her junior and senior seasons, where she recorded six wins while appearing primarily as a relief pitcher. During her senior season, Bennett finished with a 2.26 ERA and a 4-1 record. She ended her career with a 3.21 ERA and 86 strikeouts, while holding batters to a .241 average.
She is still actively playing softball as Bennett is a member of the Mexican National Team. Bennett has represented the country from 2013 and into this summer. Bennett first appeared for Mexico at the 2013 Pan American Classic in Puerto Rico. Later that year, Bennett recorded the lowest ERA of any pitcher at the Cuba Invitational. Bennett recently competed with Mexico on July 5-9 in Oklahoma City at the World Cup of Softball Xll.
Bennett graduated from Marshall in 2012 with a bachelors in business administration. She later received her masters from Lake Erie College in 2014.